ATLANTIC CITY - A local development group says it has a contract to purchase the old Atlantic Club casino hotel and will build a "world class" indoor water park.
The announcement by Ventnor-based R&R Development Group, which previously floated fanciful plans for a monorail-accessed Bader Field development, revives a water-park idea that fell through for another company.
The Atlantic Club, formerly the Atlantic City Hilton and, before that, Steve Wynn's Golden Nugget, was the first of five casinos to close here, beginning in January 2014.
Its last night, with patrons carting off potted plants as souvenirs and the erasure of 1,600 jobs, presaged an epic swoon of the seaside resort.
But recently, some of the shuttered casinos have begun to show a little life. Showboat is operating as a Bart Blatstein-owned non-casino hotel. The Taj Mahal was sold to Hard Rock International and two New Jersey developers.
The Atlantic Club, near Albany Avenue and the site of a future campus of Stockton University and South Jersey Industries, had languished at the southern end of the Boardwalk as a series of proposals fell through.
With eccentric owner Glenn Straub and his shuttered Revel at the other end of the Boardwalk hogging the spotlight, Atlantic Club just sat there, its inactivity mostly under the radar.
Stockton president Harvey Kesselman has expressed interest in the parking garage at Atlantic Club.
But R&R Development, in a news release, said it planned a water park "designed by the leading U.S. developers of water parks," plus a large-scale family entertainment center, "designed by the leading U.S. developer of family-entertainment facilities."
The group also plans to refurbish the hotel complex itself to "restore it to its original glory, when it was the leading hotel property in Atlantic City," complete with "important restaurants and entertainment events year-round."
"It will once again be a 'must-see' property, something that the city sorely needs at this time," the release said.
According to previous reports, R&R is comprised of Robert Reilert, a former casino executive, and Ronny Young, a Philadelphia-based investor with a home in Ventnor.
Mayor Don Guardian issued a statement Monday saying the Atlantic Club's location and the deal's timing are better than the prior Bader Field idea.
“I met with Ronny Young more than a year ago, as he brought investors together for a possible major waterpark and hotel facility at Bader Field," he said. "Unfortunately, that deal did not consummate at the time. However, I believe that this new location and timing are much better to assure success. Mr. Young and his investors have a world-class indoor waterpark design that will be a great use for the Atlantic Club. I spoke with Ronny Young this morning to congratulate him on closing the deal and assured him that my administration will continue to work with him to help bring back more jobs and ratables to Atlantic City for Atlantic City residents.”